Are Desert Newcomers Angry at Truckers?

Multiple complaints prompt LA County to cite truckers who park rigs at home

Los Angeles area truckers say they can't even catch a break at home.

Trucker Paul Schwanke, of Acton, told Land Line magazine this week that he's been in the business 32 years and this is the worst he's ever seen it.

Low freight rates and high fuel costs have hit truckers hard in the past year, but in the LA area an added annoyance has been pestering them with increasing frequency -- urban sprawl into desert communities has resulted in more complaints about rigs parked outside their residences.

As Schwanke told Land Line, the official publication of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, he's had to rent a fenced yard to park his trucks because Los Angeles County cited him for parking at home.

“So with things the way they are I can either pay to park my trucks somewhere else or I can make my house payment,” he said. “This state is so ridiculous. They put a tax or levy on you for everything and don’t care if they tax you right out of business.”

Schwanke's hardly alone. The Association's membership includes about 700 of his fellow truckers in LA County, some of whom spoke to the Los Angeles Times for a story in Thursday's edition that amplified Schwanke's complaints.

Many big rigs have suddenly become a scourge in the Antelope Valley communities of Littlerock and Sun Valley, and truckers say neighbor complaints are the cause, hypocritical as that may be.

"If you drive around, you'll see there isn't a single residence here that doesn't have something on it that code enforcement wouldn't see as a violation," trucker Tom Fidger of Littlerock told the Times.

At least one city councilman in Littlerock suspects newcomers to the desert might be the cause of the conflict as some try to impose urban standards and practices in the rural environment.

Neighbor wars fought via code enforcement are nothing new, but with so many truckers living in LA County, and with potential fines of up to $1,000 and six months in jail, this fight has to potential to put hundreds of high-desert dwellers at loggerheads, regardless of whether the county keeps the source of the complaints confidential.

Reports about both trucker and resident complaints have been posted in the <a href="Community News section of Littlerock's city Web site since May 2008.

-- TJ Sullivan

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